Signs of Suicide: West Plains, Mo. counselors educate parents on teen suicide

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- Thursday evening at West Plains Middle School, district counselors presented a teen suicide prevention program, aimed at raising parents' awareness.

"Suicide is a real issue. It's something that happens but it's also something that is preventable and we want to help and there are resources out there," Courtney Hughes, West Plains Middle School Counselor told KY3.

Counselors from the middle school and South Fork Elementary touched on risk factors, warning signs and groups at higher risk of suicide.

"I think some of our students don't have the same support system maybe that we had in previous years, Hughes said. We do have a lot of broken families. In our area, I think there is substance abuse and that takes a toll on families and students are exposed to trauma."

The CDC says suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people age 10 to 34.

"Mostly relationship issues, social media issues, other kids not treating them they want to be treated," South Fork Elementary Counselor Heather Miller added.

"West Plains Middle School has two full-time counselors for the first time, Hughes explained. We've been able to be a little more proactive, so we're getting into the classrooms, instead of just reactive and doing responsive services. But I will say that I'm not any less busy. We're getting to kids in a more timely fashion but there's just such a need."

The program's core principle is ACT: Acknowledge, Care and Tell.

Next week, 5th graders will be presented the program.

"We really wanna push home to the kids, who are the trusted adults in your life? Some are going to have more than others. But we know they all have a least us three and their teachers and administrators. It's safe to tell those people what's going on and get help from them," Hughes stated.

At school, kids can reach out to staff or they can use their phone and scan a QR code that lets counselors know the student needs to talk.

Locally, help is available outside of school at places such as OMC's Behavioral Heath Care.

"We have a 24/7 hotline. It's an 800 number. We also have three professionals that are licensed and strictly deal with crisis situations," OMC's Director of Behavioral Health Richard McGee told KY3.

Next Tuesday is when 5th graders will be presented the Signs of Suicide Program.

At the end of the program students can mark on a piece of paper, if they would like to speak with a counselor in the future.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.